Resident Evil 2 is a special game for many out there. Along with its predecessor on the original PlayStation, the game cemented the RE series as a household name, while delivering one of the best survival-horror experiences ever built into a game. To this day the title is a classic that stands the test of time, aside from its clunky controls and awkward cameras. But that’s where Capcom’s excellent looking Resident Evil 2 Remake comes in. After getting my hardcore RE fanboy hands on the title at E3 2018, I not only came away pleased with the direction Capcom has taken the remake. I also felt that the team had somehow perfectly blended the two styles of gameplay that had previously torn the RE series apart.
Resident Evil 2 Remake almost feels like a wholly new game.
Resident Evil 2 Remake almost feels like a wholly new game. If I wasn’t playing as Leon Kennedy, wandering the puzzle filled halls of the Raccoon Police Department, I would honestly feel that this game qualified as a brand new title. Everything has been rebuilt here, with new graphics and gameplay that could easily remove the magic that made RE2 such a classic back in 1998. And yet, the terror was still there. The fear of what might lie around every corner. The anxiety about how much ammo I have left, and how many healing herbs I can use. And let’s not even talk about my inventory, which was so tiny as to be anemic.
Yes, all those limitations that made the survival-horror genre work are present in Resident Evil 2 Remake, but the team has worked them into a game that plays like the more modern entries, such as Resident Evil 4. Leon is maneuvered easily around those dark and dangerous halls. Players can add, move, and combine items with just a few button presses. Shooting is natural and simple, though actually hitting your target is still a challenge. Resident Evil 2 Remake is taking the best of its predecessors and placing them atop the story and characters that players love so dearly, and from what I saw in this demo it is working perfectly.
Throughout my 20+ minutes with the game I felt all the same feelings I remember as I played the first game (on my N64, thank you very much). I opened doors and dreaded what might lie behind them. I encountered zombies and debated internally whether they were worth the bullets. I stumbled across seemingly dead policemen and wondered if I should stab them just to be sure. And all throughout this I worried that my bullets were running low, and my equipment was about to run out.
Exploring the halls of the RCPD was a joy, with nostalgia doing its thing as a truly enjoyable game played out in front of me. What was surprising was just how much of the game had been changed though. As I said, RE2 Remake could qualify as a wholly new experience, if it didn’t keep bringing you back to those classic moments from the original. Zombies bang on windows, which you can now board up at-will, if you have the necessary items. Lickers lurk in the darkness, taunting me with their lickiness. The story beats seem to be playing out similarly, though everything felt fresh enough that without directly going back and checking the original, I can’t pinpoint what’s the same and what’s been altered.
New stuff is here though, and there’s a lot of it. The graphics are obviously a massive step up, with the game looking fabulous throughout my time with it. Gunshots leave realistic damage on the zombies, with each gunshot causing the zombie’s face and body to distort and bleed in glorious gory fashion. Being able to move and aim like an action game didn’t hold things back in any significant way either, with tension still flooding every encounter with a zombie, especially since closing the door behind you doesn’t make them go back to standing still. They follow you and will bust that door down to get you.
And yes, puzzles are still here. News ones seem to be added, such as a truly fun one to get into Leon’s desk. Doors still need special keys, and all the usual Resident Evil trappings are in full effect. What’s changed is just how the game plays around that, and it’s all fantastic so far. Taking the more action-focused controls and camera from 4, 5, and 6 and slapping it onto Resident Evil 2 could have been disastrous, but Capcom has pulled it off so far. When my demo came to an end I felt another feeling I’d had whenever I had to stop playing the original RE2. I felt sad that my time was up and I couldn’t play more right now. Hopefully I can avoid that once Resident Evil 2 Remake hits PS4, Xbox One, and PC on January 25th.